• Caleb Ewan will start his first season with Lotto Soudal at the Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Australian sprint ace Caleb Ewan will go head-to-head with 27-year-old Brenton Jones in the 1-3 January Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits, where they are the main men's drawcards.
Cycling Central

26 Dec 2018 - 10:34 AM  UPDATED 26 Dec 2018 - 10:37 AM

Ewan has already made a name for himself at the top-level of the sport and is preparing to take another step up after signing with the Lotto Soudal team for 2019 and beyond.

Ewan is a three-time Bay Crits champion while Jones won the series in 2014, setting up a tasty battle for sprint fans.

The Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits will be streamed live on the Cycling Central Facebook page.

Ewan will have the support of a strong line-up from his new Lotto-Soudal team, including compatriot Adam Hansen while Sanders will manage the composite All-Stars team in the series, with Jones as their leader.

Australian cycling coach Dave Sanders, who will manage the All-Stars, said he is surprised a WorldTour team is yet to sign Victorian sprinter Jones as he prepares to go head-to-head with Ewan.  

While Jones had his first Paris-Roubaix start this year with the pro-continental Delko–Marseille Provence KTM squad, Sanders would love him to have a bigger exposure.

"He just needs opportunities and I've kept hoping for years that would come," Sanders said. "I am surprised that a really big team hasn't picked him. [But] he's in a good team, a good space."

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The Bay Crits series returns after a year off with Ewan and Jones the stars when it was last held in January 2017.

But the two sprinters crashed out of contention on the last bend of race one and Jones's teammate Ian Bibby took out the series title.

Asked about Ewan, Jones replied: "For sure, he's beatable."

Jones's strong team will feature lead-out specialist Luke Durbridge, who was one of Ewan's main domestiques at the Australian Mitchelton-Scott team.

Lotto Soudal's plan for Ewan to excel
Lotto Soudal sports director Mario Aerts has outlined a plan to have Caleb Ewan mentioned in the same breath as the sprinting elite of the sport once the Australian joins the squad next year.

Ewan had one of cycling's highest-profile moves this year and it came after he was a controversial omission from Mitchelton-Scott's Tour de France line-up.

Given Ewan's change of teams and the obvious benefits for Jones if he can claim a big-name scalp at the start of the season, there will be plenty at stake.

"Only Caleb would beat us ... but it's a ProTour-level line-up," Sanders said of the All-Stars.

"Young Brenton, when he's on, he can match anyone at that level."

The first two races of the series will be on 1-2 January in Geelong with the finale on 3 January in suburban Williamstown.

WorldTour riders go head-to-head at Bay Crits
Caleb Ewan will unveil his new Lotto-Soudal team colours as 2014 champion Brenton Jones (Delko Marseille Provence KTM) leads a Lexus All-Stars squad at the Bay Criterium series on New Year's day.